Don’t You Dare Hold the Mayo

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

We decided to go out for burgers last night.  Rarely does this occur because a) so often the burgers out there are crappy ,and b) Marc insists we make a better burger than anything we could find out there.   For the most part, I must agree:  unless willing to sit down at a rather up-scale-ish restaurant and pay $14, a fine and tasty burger is rare, no pun intended.   Ironically, the burgers we make are probably not far from $14 each, what with the sustainable beef, the Niman Ranch thick-cut bacon and pricey cheese that gets piled on a Marcburger.   These also involve home-made herbed mayonnaise and caramelized onions, so you can see why it is hard to warrant going out.   Once in a blue moon, however, we find ourselves with the potential for little more than cereal and vodka for supper and so must venture out, whether we like it or not.

There is a Burgermeister down the street that has won all kinds of awards and accolades for its gourmet burgers.  The word “gourmet” is hardly a descriptive adjective anymore, arguably providing no more information than the word “large”- it’s all relative, and so much overused.    I would argue that “gourmet” is code for “expensive” and has nothing to do with the quality of the food.   From this, one might surmise that I am less than enthralled by the Burgermeister’s gourmet, award-laden burgers.     It is true.  They talk a mean game but the buns are dry and the beef is, strangely, flavourless, like they forgot to add the salt.

So last night, we walked further to visit Darla’s.


Interesting-  she doesn’t insist she’s “The Best”, allows for the possibility of a better burger.   These are not what I expected:  hand-molded patties cooked to order of doneness (cooking to order seems just an American thing, right up there with Chicken ‘n Waffles), topped with mayo, thick, smoky bacon and melted cheese, served with onions, lettuce, pickles, mustard and ketchup on the side. I like the stuff on the side- easier to get the way I like it.  And like it I most certainly did.    The woman who was our server, I think she was the eponymous Darla, came up to the table after we had had a few bites and said, “I had a burger earlier today and it was really fucking good.  How’s yours?”

“Really fucking good.”

Lucinda’s Prison Burgers

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Here’s something odd and rather gruesome: list of last meal requests in Texas.

How or why this information was compiled and posted is curious; it certainly peaks the curiosity. What does a person choose for their last meal on earth, the last thing that will pass the lips, the last thing, arguably, to give pleasure before the end? It seems that Dr.Pepper, Coke, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chef’s salad, steak, eggs and bacon are the foods of choice for many of the condemned, though there were definitely some interesting requests: “Cool Whip and a bowl of cherries”, “One bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers”, “Mexican Dish with all the fixings”, “1 jar of dill pickles”, “Eucharist”, “1 apple, 1 orange, 1 banana, coconut and peaches”. (Seriously, fruit? That’s your choice for last meal?) Clearly alcohol was off limits. And what about the people that requested no meal at all? Perhaps food isn’t high on the list of priorities at that point in time but I can’t even really speculate. Out loud, I wondered what Marc thought this list might contain if it were another country, like France, before I remembered that they don’t employ capital punishment… You can be sure there’d be lobster, though. And plenty of foie gras, wine and cheese. Zero cheeseburgers.

Indeed, while reading the list, it was hard to miss the fact that so many people chose some form of hamburger as their last meal, though the details varied: double meat hamburger, “all the way” (everything on it?), bacon double cheeseburger, old fashioned cheeseburger. So with all the variations on the burger, would one be allowed to specify how, or by whom, it was prepared? I mean, could one request a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or a Whopper or “one what like my Ma used to make”? How disappointing would it be if your request for a last meal, to which one might look forward with a least a little relish, was unobtainable or fell entirely short of expectations? Like the guy who asked for “Shrimp and Salad. Shrimp not available. Served cheeseburger, french fries and cola.” I guess there’s no justice on death row.

img_1511.jpgFrom this chain of thought, I recalled our recent, and first ever, journey into Northern California wine country, with Geoff and his girlfriend, Lucinda. I know that seems a little off topic, but it was because we stopped for lunch at the In ‘N Out Burger at Lucinda’s request- dare I say insistence? It’s been awhile since she has visited California and a visit to the In ‘N Out is a mandatory item on her Golden State To Do list. Nobody in the car argued, because they do make a fine burger. So fine, in fact, that I think that might be what Lucinda would specify as her last meal- it would have to be In ‘N Out. That is, if she chose a cheeseburger, and if she were on Death Row, both of which seem pretty unlikely.

Visiting a few vineyards in Dry Creek on a hot, sunny afternoon was a pretty sweet way to spend a Monday afternoon. I was more than a little surprised that we had such a successful day because a) it was Labour Day and surely we were not the only people inclined to drink, I mean taste, our way through the afternoon, b) we left when the city in the afternoon, and c) the Bay Bridge was closed for construction which meant the traffic on the Golden Gate was more concentrated than ever. It turned out that none of these things posed any kind of an obstacle and we happily sampled more wines than I can recall. Arguably, our favourite was the 2004 Unti Syrah, which we brought home and have since drunk with relish (but no mustard or ketchup). We had enjoyed the 2003 Syrah the night before at Saha, a Yemeni restaurant where we met Geoff & Lucinda, her Aunt Kate and mom, Ellen and thought we would be so clever to visit the winery the next day. Indeed, Lucinda was clever enough to arrange the whole thing, including the In ‘N Out luncheon.


Eastern Interpretations

Monday, July 17th, 2006

I’m down to one Korean meal a day. I’m really sick of eating kimchi, which the Koreans seem to eat three times a day without fail. When eating ‘ethnic’ food they must have an ‘ethnic’ substitution such as a bowl of sliced pickles with a pizza or a small seaweed salad with sushi.

When I want burgers, I want Lotteria. Most of the burgers have a Korean twist, but they’ve also out-done the West with some of our own ingredients, such as with my favorite, the European Frico Cheese Burger.


Take a slice of good cheese, bread it, fry it and insert it as an extra patty = absolutely brilliant. How could North America have overlooked this? Also included is a slice of yellow pepper and black olives. I’m not a fan of olives, even on pizza, but it’s great on this burger. A few other noteworthy Lotteria burgers:

  • Kimchi Burger: Janet likes this one, a breaded patty of spicy cabbage.
  • Bulgogi Burger: A giant patty of famous Korean BBQ.
  • BBQ Paprika Burger: The sauce is quite good on this double patty burger.
  • Chuncheon Dakgalbi Burger: More of a typical chicken burger than the spectacle of dakgalbi.

Of course, the local interpretations can be less pleasing. Potatoes on pizza are popular. The last pizza we had included a ribbon of rubbery cheese with mashed sweet potato piped on top. At least the traditional ingredients in the middle were good.